Le cul entre les deux chaises

An American Spaniard in France or: How I Learned to Make an Ass of Myself in Three Cultures


Bested by Science, the scientific method is the worst. By removing the factor Blog Writing from my life, I immediately saw changes. Day Two set and I’d read a whole novel. Week Two elapsed and I’d seen more movies than in the previous two months combined. Month One ended and the amount of time I’d spent socializing with people in the real world had exploded.

Using Science, I have concluded that the way my life is currently structured can not support daily blogging. Using my eyes, I have realized that my current sublet ends at the end of the month and that all my spare time needs to be focussed on finding a new, hopefully long-term, roof to put over my head. The only good news I can share is that my work contract got extended so I don’t also have to be looking for a job at the same time.

What this means for you, dear reader, is that I may be occasionally posting stuff, but not every weekday because I just can’t handle it. All month long, I was collecting ideas and storing away facts to share with you, so the content is in my brain, just not yet on a virtual page.

Please bear with the changes. It’s not my ideal scenario — which would involve not actually commuting anywhere and living in a cinema — but I do hope to get back to this soon as I really did get a lot of enjoyment out of interacting with you all.


Today is my 9th birthday

On this day nine years ago, I emancipated myself from the US.

I don’t have science, so I can’t remember what it’s called, but one of Stephen Hawking’s theories about space-time is that every possible choice or action creates an alternate universe. I also don’t really have regrets, but I do sometimes think about who I’d be today if I’d made different choices when it came to the Big Decisions in my life — where I’d gone to college, where I’d moved to after college, what jobs I accepted.

Staying in the US isn’t an alternate life I dwell on as I was immensely unhappy when I was there and would have likely remained that way for a long time.

But I left so now I’m free! And I’m nine years old again! Nine was the end of my childhood for me, so I am happy to be back here, just on the cusp of becoming jaded and sarcastic. Yay for my birthday!

Next week

It’s Christmas in July! I don’t like Christmas (maybe I’ll tell you why) but when it’s removed from all its associated trappings (hellish music, screaming children, fake jollity, etc.) I don’t mind it so much. Plus, many learning opportunities ahead!


Regrets, I’ve had two

I don’t believe in regret. It’s not an efficient feeling and I am all about efficiency. (I should have been born German or Swiss.)

Before my enlightenment, one thing happened which would qualify as a regret, but I don’t think about it too often. It’s also personal, so I won’t be sharing it. Since I’ve developed my own tenets and started to live a life less encumbered by stuff that’s annoying, stupid and wasteful, I’ve done one thing which I would like to do over: getting rid of these shorts.

They really were glorious.

They really were glorious.

Now, they don’t look like much, but these shorts were Made in the USA by Champion. They were a magical sweatshirt material with a drawstring waist and they had pockets. (I can not impress upon you enough how key pockets are.) They were a gift from an old boyfriend in 1993. I wore them all the damn time. They were the perfect thing to pull on to run to the corner for milk or cigarettes. They were also ideal for biking, wearing over bikini bottoms and as house cleaning clothes. Before I became a grownup and started hiring movers, I also regularly wore these while hauling my own boxes.

When I changed apartments in February of 2012, I decided to get rid of them on a whim. They were old (though they still looked pretty good, considering) and it seemed a bit weird to hold on to something given to me by a person I hadn’t spoken to in over a decade. I try not to be sentimental about too many objects because they will weigh you down and wear you down. I don’t think it’s healthy to have reminders of lives long left behind around to haunt you all the time.

So I washed them, took a picture for posterity and threw them in a charity bin. It was the right choice, but I gotta admit: I wish I had a pair just like them all the time. I’d wear them for another 20 years.

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GIRL enters the Place Sainte-Opportune (aka the one with the Pizza Hut near Les Halles). She is hungry but knows that eating before a three-hour long movie is not advisable.

La Place Sainte-Opportune on the very day our story takes place. The Bagel Factory has a red awning and is to the right of center.

La Place Sainte-Opportune on the very day our story takes place. Bagel Factory is red and to the right of center.


Christ, I could really go for a smoothie right about now.

GIRL scans the Place and her eyes light on a newish awning that says, incredibly, “Smoothies.” SHE heads towards the establishment.


GIRL enters the shop and sees FOUR YOUNGER GIRLS already in line. The YOUNGER GIRLS have never had a bagel and the OWNER and his ASSISTANT are walking them through the steps of ordering. They are taking forever. GIRL looks at her watch, carefully calculating how many minutes she has to spare before she must leave so that she can be first in line to get into the theater. There aren’t many.

Finally, the YOUNGER GIRLS finish their order and sit at a table. GIRL moves to the front of the counter.


What fruits are available today?


I’m so sorry. The smoothie machine is in the basement. It’s new and hasn’t been installed yet.


Oh no!


Yes, it’s true. We have fruit cups —


(realizing how hungry she really is)

No, that’s fine. I’ll have a bagel.

GIRL quickly orders a sandwich off the menu. It takes her two seconds to do so.

The OWNER and ASSISTANT begin to prepare all five bagels at the same time. They do not have a routine established and are making lots of mistakes. GIRL, a former professional sandwich-maker at many mid- to high-end eating establishments, silently judges them, tsk-tsking away in her head.

The minutes tick by.

And then —

Over the RADIO, the familiar opening notes of Björk’s “It’s Oh So Quiet” begin to play. The YOUNGER GIRLS all quickly look at each other over the table. The OWNER and the ASSISTANT begin to sway slightly behind the counter to the music.

And then —

ALL OF THEM start singing.


It’s — oh — so — quiet.
It’s — oh — so — still.

Not realizing that no one else knows the words, GIRL continues to sing


You’re all alone —
And so peace-ful un-til

The YOUNGER GIRLS, OWNER and ASSISTANT all look at the GIRL. There is a noticeable pause, like the space between a lightning strike and a thunder-clap. GIRL is wide-eyed, her ears pulled back, awaiting response.

EVERYONE except GIRL begins giggling and picking up where she left off, joining GIRL singing, mumbling to the song as best they can. Smiles all around as bagels are distributed.

GIRL heads across the Place, ready to face the line at the box office.

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I derive a lot of pleasure from writing my Spanish screenplay, but I realized that so much negativity should be countered by something positive, so here’s my French screenplay about real things that happen to me which make me love France.


GIRL arrives at the Filmothèque du Quartier Latin an hour before the screening of BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID. She is the only person outside the closed cinema and pulls out her ebook to wait for the box office to open.

Three-quarters of an hour later, GIRL‘s still at the front of the line, now with ticket firmly in hand. There is a GAGGLE OF PEOPLE behind her, including one very distinctive OLD LADY, shoulders hunched, wearing a long teal wool coat. GIRL is still reading.


What I like about Westerns is that the men are so handsome.

GIRL looks around to see who the woman is addressing and, seeing no possible candidates, thinks it might be her.


Excuse me?


The men, the men! There’s something about these men in Westerns that’s so… evocative of… men.


Uh, yes. The men in Westerns are men.


It’s not that other men aren’t available.

OLD LADY juts her jaw in the direction of the other line that’s formed, one for THE SOUND OF MUSIC. OLD LADY rolls her eyes.


But some kinds of men just can’t be in a Western. I don’t have any use for those kinds.


Well, you can’t do much better than the two in this movie. Newman and Redford were better looking in other pictures, maybe, but they’re almost perfect in this one. And it’s funny.


Comedy! pftt! It’s THE MEN I’m talking about. The men!


Well, I am not disagreeing. I agree with you. The men are something special.

The OLD LADY finally relaxes her shoulders and directly addresses GIRL for the first time.


Yes! I’m glad you agree.

The matter settled, the OLD LADY smiles and gazes off into the distance. GIRL looks down and smiles too, but this time it’s the OLD LADY she’s appreciating, not the men.